Don’t be fooled by the idea that adequate protein intake is only for those who strength train loads or so-called ‘meat heads’ at the gym. Our bodies NEED protein for tissue synthesis and repair, production of enzymes – which help us digest food and proteins help carry oxygen.
I was chatting with my sister the other day and she was asking and protein and what the actual point or use of it is, what is protein made of and where it is found she asked as she made her protein smoothie. I thought that maybe clarifying a little further what proteins are and why we need them can help you to remember how important they are in your diet.
Of the 20 amino acids within your body, 9 of them are classed as ‘essential’ meaning your body can not synthesize them itself and we need to obtain them from our diet. Complete proteins are those which contain all the essential amino acids. If you’re not familiar with much biology then, simply, think of amino acids as the building blocks or like letters of the alphabet that make up a word. The word being the protein.
Many meat protein sources are complete proteins such as chicken or beef. However, if you’re vegetarian (like me), vegan or simply want to take a meal without meat then it can be difficult to know what constitutes a complete protein. Here are some easy examples of food pairings and individual foods that are complete proteins.
- Chia Seeds – try sprinkling them on toast, adding to smoothies or topping salads with them.
- Quorn – meat substitute
- Greek Yoghurt
- Tofu with quinoa
- Peanut butter and whole grain bread
- Legumes and grains – such as chickpeas with quinoa or rice
- Spinach with almonds in a salad
As well as food pairings, a variation in your diet is a great way to ensure you’re receiving all the amino acids, especially if you aim for a plant-based diet. I think it is great to intake as much protein as needed from natural foods however protein powders really come in handy so a protein smoothie is always a great, easy option. I’m a huge fan of Pulsin’s Pea Protein.
What do you think of this style of post? – Cecily x
Disclaimer: CECFIT is not a substitute for professional advice regarding nutrition!